Texas County Requests Help from State Troopers After Austin Defunds Police

Protesters rally around Austin Police Department headquarters calling for defunding of police. (File Photo: KUT/University of Texas)
File Photo: KUT/University of Texas

A Texas county called for law enforcement reinforcements from Governor Greg Abbott after the Austin City Council cut its police department budget by one-third. The county judge from Williamson County said the $150 million budget cut to the Austin Police Department by the city council places Austin officers and their families “in great peril.” Part of Austin extends into Williamson County.

County Judge Bill Gravell, Jr. noted that 55,385 residents of the county live within Austin’s city limits. The county judge told Governor Abbott, “I am concerned with these extreme budget cuts, that the citizens of the City of Austin within Williamson County will not remain protected at current levels.” In Texas, a county judge is the chief executive of the local government.

Gravell added, “It is clear the Austin City Council has abdicated their responsibility to protect their citizens and, in turn, citizens of Williamson County. I will not let politics get in the way of protecting the people.”

Governor Abbott responded to the Austin City Council’s $150 police department cut saying, “Some cities are more focused on political agendas than public safety.”

Abbott said the action “paves the way for lawlessness,” reported Breitbart Texas.

The Austin-area county judge wrote Governor Abbott, “as you are assigning State Troopers to fill in the void in law enforcement in Austin, that you would assign additional Troopers to work with our [Sheriff] to protect our Austin area citizens.”

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody responded to the county judge’s letter request by tweeting, “Austin politics to impact WilCo.”

On Saturday, Sheriff Chody told Breitbart Texas the Austin police budget cuts could have adverse effects on the county where he serves as the chief law enforcement officer.

“Taking away replacement officers [by defunding three police academy classes and eliminating 150 vacant officer positions] only to be filled by other needed units that investigate or fight certain crime trends will certainly diminish services that will negatively impact Wilco public safety.”

When the city council made the cuts, Austin City Councilman Greg Casar said the decision was “born out of a lot of hurt in the community.” “We know we have a long way to go.”

District 6 Councilman Flannigan wrote in his plan posted on AustinCouncilForum.org: “We should expedite the demolition of the APD Headquarters by directing the City Manager to move all remaining APD staff out of the existing headquarters building and into other underutilized city facilities.”

The city council plans to cut the Austin Police Department budget by one-third and redirect some of the funds to abortion and food programs.

Governor Abbott promised that “the Texas Department of Public Safety will stand in the gap to protect our city.”

Breitbart Texas recently reported that the City of Austin became number one in Texas in the percentage increase in the number of murders. The number of murders in the city rose by 64 percent in a year-to-year comparison, Governor Abbott stated. The report cited by the governor also revealed a 14 percent increase in aggravated robberies while other robberies increased by 16 percent.

The Texas governor met the city council’s action with a call for legislation to freeze the property tax revenue of any city acting to “defund police,” Breitbart Texas reported. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick pledged to make this a priority in next year’s legislative session. Austin experienced protests and some rioting in recent weeks and one person was killed after shots were exchanged during a Black Lives Matter protest downtown. Patrick said recent events did not devolve into anarchy like Portland and Seatle “because of our Department of Public Safety troopers.”

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart News. She is a trial lawyer who previously served as a prosecutor and family court associate judge in Texas. You can reach Shadwick at Lana@LanaShadwick.com.

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